A smart approach to grid congestion and climate goals
Jorlan Peeters, Managing Director HyTEPS
The Dutch Climate Agreement stipulates that two-thirds of all electricity in the Netherlands is to come from renewable sources by 2030. Measures are being taken to achieve this, but a number of factors are standing in the way of achieving our climate goals.
Capacity demand keeps increasing
Wind, solar and other renewable sources are badly needed to achieve climate goals. More and more companies want to contribute to sustainability, generating and sharing energy themselves. But the demand for power grid capacity continues to rise and, while the same time, the power grid is becoming congested in more and more places. Just recently, for instance, we 250 agricultural firms called in reports to a grid congestion hotline set up by agricultural special interest group LTO Noord . Some 30 of these farmers have installed solar panels but are unable to supply power back to the grid.
Grid operators are looking for smart ways to optimize power grid usage and effectively combat congestion. However, last year, grid operator Alliander indicated that the current power grid would have to at least double in size in order to meet rapidly growing demand. This situation does not seem likely to improve in the short term, and as a result the Netherlands may miss its sustainability targets.
Concrete government action
The Netherlands’ Energy minister Rob Jetten wants to make the power grid fit for the energy transition through faster expansion, smarter utilization and more flexible supply. With this in mind, the government, together with grid operators, the Dutch Consumer & Market Authority (ACM), companies, municipalities and provinces, has presented a National Grid Congestion Action Program.
A step in the right direction. Yet there is also criticism: “Unfortunately, the measures mentioned in the plan do not guarantee that there will be sufficient grid capacity to fulfil the cabinet’s climate ambitions, although they are important first steps for concrete action,” stated employers’ federation VNO-NCW.
Insufficient energy storage options
Storage could be part of the solution. Systems that store electrical energy for later use can take strain off of the electricity grid and ensure greater ﬂexibility and reliability. Supply and demand can be matched in a way that is as energy-efficient and efficient as possible. For now, however, there are insufficient possibilities for energy storage. Minister Jetten will be publishing an Energy Storage Roadmap’, which will hopefully provide more clarity.
Energy consumption has more than doubled!
During HyTEPS’ first years, we regularly predicted during lectures that energy consumption would double by 2022. This has since increased significantly – and some experts predict that we will soon see Europe as a whole using eight times more energy than a few years ago.
Of course, we should not lose sight of the fact that expanding and adapting the power grid comes with vast costs, impact on infrastructure, logistical challenges, and inconvenience to citizens and businesses. In addition, we’re facing a shortage of skilled electrical engineering personnel. According to Techniek Nederland, the Dutch trade association for the installation and technical retail sector, that shortage is so great that the energy transition threatens to become unfeasible – and with it, the climate goals.
‘Inspansion’ to achieve climate goals
Only smart policies and targeted investments will make it possible to achieve our climate goals. HyTEPS is, of course, happy to help solve these challenges. Through ‘inspansion’, for example, we help get more efficiency out of existing installations. Thanks to ‘inspansion’, capacity can be created behind your transformer(s) in electrical installations. Power Quality – the quality of voltage and current – plays an important role in this. By removing Power Quality phenomena such as harmonic pollution, inductive and capacitive reactive power and by load balancing, existing installation capacity can be used much more efficiently. This frees up space for expansion or the implementation of desired and necessary sustainability initiatives, for example.
Often, optimizing Power Quality goes hand in hand with reducing energy losses. Meanwhile, work can be done on local storage of power, optimization of consumption and distribution, and all kinds of smart techniques that ensure that we can meet climate targets without introducing new problems and while retaining an attractive businesses climate.